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Question:
I need some Bible reference points and verses in talking with teeneagers about why God does not want us to get piercings and tatooes please.

Answer:

Well if you are looking for some absolute commandment or a verse that says “tattoos and piercings (other than girl’s ears of course) are sin”… you won’t be getting any because they don’t exist.

Getting that little detail out of the way, I can say the following… Primarily, we are looking at PRINCIPLES, not COMMANDS.

There is one Levitical law prohibiting tattooing (Leviticus 19:28). It is not accurate to say that the Bible is totally “silent” on the issue; it is accurate to say that New Testament is. Therefore, like the hundreds of other Levitical regulations, we are left to determine if tattooing was forbidden for health, religious, societal or unholy reasons. Is the prohibition there because tattooing is inherently sinful (like adultery, or lying), or was prohibited for other reasons?

Will you automatically be sending yourself to hell for getting a tattoo? The only automatic ticket to hell is the willful rejection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The unsaved are already going to hell, tattoos or not; and the genuinely saved may ask forgiveness for any sin they may commit. (1 John 1.9)

Yes, your body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19), not to be spoiled with sexual immorality; but the principle is broader than that. You are a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12.1) in all ways; so anything that negligently, knowingly or purposely destroys or degrades your body should be considered first with very serious hesitation and concern.

So does tattooing destroy your temple? Arguably, yes. It is a scarring process and permanently marks your body for the rest of your life. Does that alone make tattooing a sin, cut and dried, black and white? I’d say one must be very cautious about taking that position. Why?

Well what about earrings? Cosmetic surgery? What about sports or work that you know has a high probability of scarring or injuring your body? Many things can alter your body. Overeating, smoking, steroids, all types of medications…… it’s not as simple as some would like to make it. Too many Christians look down there nose at the person with an eyebrow ring and tattoo while stuffing yet another Big Mac into their already very healthy sized body. (ouch… I’ll hear about that comment!)

“Yeah, but earrings or a nose job or hair plugs make your body BETTER”. Who says? That’s a matter of opinion. One person my admire the beauty of a tattoo more than a double-pierced ear. Who is right in the absence of clear Biblical command?

What about other “body piercings” since we are on the subject (bellybutton, tongue, etc.)? Is that sinful? THE FACT IS THE BIBLE DOES NOT GIVE A PLAIN, BLACK AND WHITE ANSWER. So to dogmatically declare it SIN in all cases, is a step farther than Scripture itself.

Do you want my opinion? Thought you’d never ask….

My opinion is that body piercings (other than ears in moderation), and tattoos are not a GOOD IDEA for Christians because:

  • They are too easily and obviously identified with “worldliness” and non-Christian values.

    “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV).
  • They draw unnecessary attention to yourself
  • Frequently they draw attention to parts of the body that should be covered violating principles of Christian modesty
  • Some piercings and tattoos obviously violate the idea of humble adornment
  • Many types of tattoos and piercings are done for sexual allurement which of course in all cases is sinful

That’s MY opinion based on Biblical pricinples and societal realities; with the strongest of my opinion falling on the fact that tattoos and body piercings are just simply and honestly more associated with worldliness, rebellion and revelry than they are with piety, wisdom, holiness and Christ-likeness.

One more thing, CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT VILIFY, EMBARRASS, HARASS OR THINK LESS OF PEOPLE WHO COME INTO OUR CHURCHES AND GROUPS WHO ARE ALREADY COVERED WITH TATTOOS AND EARRINGS. It is God’s business to convict new Christians of the changes HE wants them to make. It’s not our job to see that everyone conforms to our “idea” of what a Christian “looks like” (not ignoring the principles of modesty and holiness). People don’t change overnight.

How welcome would a newly converted gang-member, Biker or ex-con feel in your church?

In closing, as I frequently point out, this question is the WRONG QUESTION. The question for Christians is not “are tattoos wrong?” but “what can I do with my body that will bring the most glory to Christ?”.

If you are convinced with a clear conscience that a tattoo is part of that answer (to bring Christ glory), then that is between you and the Lord. You answer to Him, not me.

One thing is for sure, I will get hammered by half my Christian friends for extending any liberty in this area; and hammered by the other half of my Christian friends for being “judgmental” and “legalistic” in my opinion that tattoos are not a good idea.

Let the hammering begin…

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